Uncertainty looms over Connecticut River channel markers

CHICOPEE, Mass. (WWLP) – It’s National Safe Boating Week, as many prepare to head out on the water; However there is one safety feature, a local boating expert is concerned will not be put out on the Connecticut River this summer.

Usually mid June, channel markers are put along the Connecticut River to help boaters avoid running aground, but this year it’s unclear if that’s going to happen.

Luke Brunelle is the owner of Brunelle Marina, and a member of the Connecticut River Channel Markers Committee. He tells 22News the committee was trying to get a five year bid to put out the buoys. Usually that costs $18,000 each year, but this time, Luke said they only got one contractor, who offered to do it for $50,000 each year.

Luke said they have reached out to state and local leaders for help, but his concern is about safety. “By Mitch’s Island there’s a cable crossing which people are going to hit and there’s another rock out cropping north of the island, there’s another rock outcropping south of our marina,” Brunelle says. “Somebody hits those, not only will there be boat damage but it could toss somebody out of the boat.”

Luke added that this is not as simple as someone placing a buoy in the water, it requires some heavy equipment like cranes. Luke said the committee is looking into offering one year bids instead of five to see if another contractor will bite.

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